JUNGLE, palm-backed beaches, wildlife, tribal villages: welcome to Malaysia’s version of a paradise island. The isle in question is Borneo, a huge land mass whose territory is shared with Indonesia. While its most famous tourist area, Sabah, is busy with backpackers, the neighbouring state of Sarawak offers similar wonders in a far more pristine setting — which is why Saddle Skedaddle has just launched a cycling tour there.
‘While savvy travellers have heard of Borneo’s more touristy resorts, the north-west is only just opening up to tourism,’ says the company’s chief Asia guide Andrew Straw.
After a heritage bicycle tour of colourful main city Kuching, Saddle Skedaddle’s 13-night tour visits Sarawak’s typical fishing kampongs (stilted villages), then takes a speedboat to Bako National Park, looking for pink dolphins en route. On guided hikes in the rainforest, you’ll search out the bizarre-looking proboscis monkey, crocodiles and tropical birds.
There’s a stop at a nature reserve to see endangered orangutans before a pedal past Santubong’s waterfalls towards the traditional bamboo-built Bidayuh Longhouse. You stay overnight her and get to watch local dancing and visit Siniawan’s lively night-time street-food market. Nocturnal adventures are also the focus at Kubah National Park, with a guided search for some of its 60 species of frogs.
The trip finishes with two prolonged days in the saddle along Sematan’s coastline.
‘It’s full of deserted beaches with coconut trees and crystal-clear waters,’ Straw says. ‘Sometimes we stop at a local house for laksa [soup] and rice wine for lunch — the perfect start to an afternoon’s riding!’
After some beach relaxation, the tour returns to Kuching for a final night of celebrations. With an average 26 miles per day in the saddle on mostly flat terrain, and with three rest days, the cycling is graded gentle to moderate. Tours depart on April 13, May 18, September 14 and October 5.
■ From £2,295pp full board. Bike hire is an additional £150, skedaddle.com
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